erik lundegaard

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Sunday May 01, 2016

Batman, Superman Robbed of Millions by Zack Snyder, Warner Bros.

Fire Zack Snyder

Snyder, before the heist. 

Zack Snyder's “Batman v Superman” shed 736 theaters this weekend, dropped 30% from the previous weekend, and grossed another $3.8 million (ninth place) for a total domestic gross of $325 million. It's the second-highest of the year, the third-highest-grossing DC movie ever (after “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Returns”), and the highest-grossing Superman film ever. 

That, I suppose, is the good news. 

The bad news:

  • “BvS” is second on the year to “Deadpool,” a little-known, R-rated Marvel comics character that opened Valentine's Day weekend. It won't catch it. 
  • Repeat: Batman and Superman combined can't beat Deadpool. 
  • If you adjust for inflation, “BvS” drops to eighth all-time in the DC Universe. The movies above it include “Batman Returns,” “Batman Forever” and “Superman II.”
  • “BvS” is about to set an undesirable record among the highest-grossing openers ever. For that, let's get off bullet points. 

Among the top 50 openers of all time, these are the films that had the longest legs (opening weekend /domestic gross):

Rank Movie Opening Dom. Gross % Thtrs
1 Shrek 2 $108,037,878 $441,226,247 24.5% 4,163
2 Inside Out $90,440,272 $356,461,711 25.4% 3,946
3 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $247,966,675 $936,121,508 26.5% 4,134
4 Toy Story 3 $110,307,189 $415,004,880 26.6% 4,028
5 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $108,966,307 $402,111,870 27.1% 4,234
6 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $97,852,865 $352,390,543 27.8% 4,088
7 Guardians of the Galaxy $94,320,883 $333,176,600 28.3% 4,080
8 Spider-Man (2002) $114,844,116 $403,706,375 28.4% 3,615
9 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone $90,294,621 $317,575,550 28.4% 3,672
10 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith $108,435,841 $380,270,577 28.5% 3,661

Give or take a “Transformers” or “Sith,” pretty good movies for their type. 

Now here's the bottom 10 in terms of legs:

Rank Movie Opening Dom. Gross % Thtrs
1 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $166,007,347 $325,132,593 51.11% 4,242
2 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $138,122,261 $281,287,133 49.1% 4,061
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 $141,067,634 $292,324,737 48.3% 4,070
4 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $142,839,137 $296,623,634 48.2% 4,024
5 Godzilla (2014) $93,188,384 $200,676,069 46.4% 3,952
6 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 $91,608,337 $202,853,933 45.2% 4,324
7 Spider-Man 3 $151,116,516 $336,530,303 44.9% 4,252
8 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $169,189,427 $381,011,219 44.4% 4,375
9 X-Men: The Last Stand $102,750,665 $234,362,462 43.8% 3,690
10 Iron Man 3 $174,144,585 $409,013,994 42.6% 4,253

They're either movies that have a small core audience (“Twilight”), or shitty word-of-mouth (“Spider-Man 3,” “X-Men: The Last Stand”). 

And “Batman v Superman” is about to beat them all. 

The movie needs another $13 mil or so to ensure that it's not No. 1 in this category, and it looks iffy to make that. Either way, it will only double the gross of its opening. That's it. 

Now look back up at the first table. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered the record for biggest box-officer openers last December with $247 mil, yet it still grossed almost four times that amount. Because people liked it. They went more than once. They recommended it to friends. 

If “BvS” had been such a well-received movie, it would've grossed something like $664 million. Instead, it's half that. Warner Bros. is losing hundreds of millions of dollars because they hired Zack Snyder to direct, and everything Zack Snyder touches turns to stupid. And people can only take so much stupid. 

And that's not even taking into account international, and all the money lost in merchandising. Is it a $500 million loss? A billion? Whatever the final number, it's an epic disaster. I'd suggest Warner Bros. call Superman to save the day, but look what they've already done to him. Look what they did to my boy.

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Posted at 03:55 PM on May 01, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Friday April 15, 2016

Box Office: 5 Lessons from the First 3 Months of 2016

Chris Pines in "The Finest Hours"

Nothing says “January box office” like movie stars dunked in frigid waters. 

1. Pick a memorable title.

Turns out the movie that grossed the least while being distributed in more than 3,000 theaters was “The Finest Hours,” which managed $27.5 million in 3,143 theaters in January—just a notch below “Zoolander 2,” which grossed $28.8 in 3,418 theaters in February. “Zoolander” I had no trouble placing, but ... “Finest Hours”? Worse, I'd seen its trailer incessentantly in the fall. Oh right, that Chris Pine, Boston Coast Guard thingee. Men fighting big, cold waves; the woman who loves him fighting the uncaring bureaucracy. It probably never would've done well but a title that has weight, that people can remember, might've helped.

2. Shitty sequels to shitty movies generally mean shitty box office. 

Here's the domestic #s for the three “Kung Fu Panda” movies: $215,  $165, $141.

“Ride Along” did $135, “Ride Along 2,” $90. “Olympus Has Fallen” managed $99, “London Has Fallen” fell to $60.

“Zoolander,” which I always thought overrated, never did much business in 2000, $45 mil, but “2” did just $28. Unadjusted. 

My favorite is the “Divergent” series, which was supposed to be the new “Hunger Games.” It disappointed when it opened with just $150. The second one disappointed further: $130. And this one? $62. The fourth (and last) is scheduledl for next year. How low can you go? 

3. Are Conservative Christian films dead?

In the spring of 2014, the tepid “Heaven is for Real” grossed $90 mil, the insipid “God's Not Dead” grossed $60, and the European miniseries resurrected as a feature film, “Son of God,” grossed $59. So the moneychangers flocked to the temples. 

This spring? Not exactly hosannas. “Miracles from Heaven” did OK biz, $54, but “Risen,” with Joseph Fiennes, in a story similar to “Hail, Caesar!”'s (Roman tribune is converted) managed only $36. After two weeks, “God's Not Dead 2” is sputtering at $15 mil, while “The Young Messiah,” released in February, hardly got out of the manger: $6 mil. 

Christian moviegoers: Why have you deserted him? 

4. Stars schmars.

Anyone see the Natalie Portman movie, “Jane Got a Gun”? Or Sasha Baron Cohen's “The Brothers Grimsby”? Of course not. They grossed $1.5 and $6.8, respectively. Do I add “Dirty Grandpa” with Robert De Niro and Zac Efron, to the list? It did better, $35, but is that total worth it? For the ickiness factor?

Speaking of....

5. Make better movies.

All of these movies sucked. Every one of them was deemed rotten, or way rotten, on the Rotten Tomatoes site—with one exception: “The Finest Hours,” which managed a 63%. Which brings us back to the first lesson. 

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Posted at 06:16 AM on Apr 15, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday April 10, 2016

Box Office: Melissa McCarthy Beats Up Batman and Superman

Superman

Superman can't stay aloft.

Expect a lot of similar headlines for the weekend's box office, in which McCarthy's “The Boss” debuted at $23.48 million, beating the third weekend of “Batman v Superman,” which fell another 54.3% to $23.43 million.

Obviously it's a squeaker, and those positions could reverse when the actuals come in tomorrow. Besides, a more accurate headline would read something like:

Auds Opt for New Crappy Comedy over Older, Shitty Superhero Movie

“Boss” got 18% on Rotten Tomatoes; “BvS” 29%. And as I wrote yesterday, that's higher than it really deserves.

Meanwhile, “Zootopia” (98%) stayed strong, earning another $14 mil in its sixth weekend, for third place. It's now grossed $852 million worldwide, the biggest global hit of the year, followed by “BvS” at $783.5 and “Deadpool” at $755.

“Deadpool” (83%) is still the 2016 b.o. champ in the U.S., where it's grossed $358 vs. $296 each for “Zootopia” and “BvS.”

“Batman v Superman” isn't a disaster but there are a lot of indicators that everyone is pretty much turned off, and that doesn't bode well for next year's “Justice League” movie. Here, for example, is a chart of how the movie has done each weekend:

Batman v Superman $$ Drop Place
First Wknd $166.00   7th
Second Wknd $51.33 69.1% 32nd
Third Wknd $23.43 54.3% 63rd

The key is that last column. Its opening weekend was the 7th-best opening weekend ever, its second weekend the 32nd-best second weekend ever, and this weekend it had the 63rd-best third weekend ever. Which, right, is nothing to sneeze at. But quality blockbusters don't drop like rocks like that. That Superman can't stay aloft should be a little embarrassing. And that a pairing of Batman and Superman, the two most famous superheroes in the world, can't stay aloft should be earth-shattering for Warner Bros., since it indicates hundreds of millions of dollars that won't be made in box office, and that again, or times two, in merchandising.

Here are a few insider comments from Kim Masters' recent piece in The Hollywood Reporter:

“The biggest problem,” says the head of a rival studio, “is that it is not turning [DC] into Marvel. The audience has communicated, as have the critics.” One agent notes BvS likely won't get to $1 billion despite launching the universe with “two of the most iconic characters in history.” Pointing out that Jurassic World pulled in $1.67 billion globally, he continues, “you can't tell me Batman v. Superman is so much less valuable.”

So #FireZackSnyder? Nope:

Sources with firsthand knowledge of the situation say the studio has no such plans [to change producers/directors]. One says the filmmakers naturally will evaluate what went wrong with BvS, but when it comes to Justice League, “we're not going to take a movie that's supposed to be one thing and turn it into a copycat of something else.”

Warner Bros. is doubling down on the dumb. I guess it's all they've got at the moment.

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Posted at 10:47 AM on Apr 10, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday April 03, 2016

Box Office: 'Batman v Superman' Drops Big, But Big Enough to Lose Zack?

Batman v Superman box office

Do Warner execs hear a bomb about to go off? 

In 2013, I wanted “Man of Steel” to succeed at the box office because I wanted Warners to make another Superman movie. And look what that got me. 

Now I want “Batman v Superman” to die a quick box-office death because I want Zack Snyder off the “Justice League” project. I want smart and the man can't do smart. Not even close

This weekend helped but not as much as I'd hoped. “Batman v Superman” won the weekend, grossing $52 mil, which is a 68.4% drop, which isn't good but it's not as earth-shatteringly awful as, say, the movie itself. It's not as bad as the last “Harry Potter” movie, for example, which dropped 72% in its second weekend, or any of the “Twilight” movies (69-72%) or “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which fell 69%. So probably not enough to wake Warner execs from their Snyder slumber.

We'll see if those numbers hold when the actuals are released tomorrow. 

After 10 days, “Batman v Superman” is now at $261 domestic, which is the 11th-best ever, but short of the “Avengers” streamroller DC was most likely hoping for ($373 for the original, $313 for the sequel). It's also short of “The Dark Knight” ($313). You'd think adding Superman would help box office, but apparently not when you also add Zack Snyder. 

“BvS” did have a wide-open field, by the way, as the only movies that debuted were niche products, “God's Not Dead 2” and “Meet the Blacks,” and both got even worse reviews than “BvS” (14% and 20%, respectively, on RT). “God's 2” opened in about 1500 more theaters than the first but grossed $1 million less: $8.1. It's a series that deserves to die. Hey, why not give it to Zack Snyder? Win win.

Looking forward to Richard Linklater's “Everybody Wants Some!!” opening wider next weekend. Because somebody open a window in here.

UPDATE: “BvS”'s actuals were down a bit: $51 mil for a 69.1% drop. So actually even worse than “X-Men: Origins: Wolverine.” We'll see what good it does. 

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Posted at 08:48 AM on Apr 03, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday March 28, 2016

Why 'Batman v Superman''s $170 Million Open Isn't the Important Number

Batman v Superman box office

“It's your fault.” “No, it's your fault.” 

Despite often blistering reviews (including mine), “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opened at $170 million domestic, $254 foreign, for a $424 worldwide opening, which is the fourth-best ever; but that was never really in doubt. It's a summer movie opening in March, and the first cinematic pairing of two of the world's most beloved superheroes. It's supposed to open big. 

You could argue, in fact, that it should've opened bigger. Domestically, sure, that $170 beats anything from the Dark Knight series (unadjusted), but it's still behind, among others, “Iron Man 3,” which opened at $174 million in 2013. 

Batman and Superman together can't beat Iron Man? In the comic book world, that shouldn't compute.

“Iron Man 3” was actually kind of lousy, but it opened well because it followed upon “The Avengers,” which was hugely successful both critically and commercially. Why didn't Batman/Superman open bigger? Three reasons, off the top of my head:

  1. It followed upon, “Man of Steel,” which wasn't particularly good. 
  2. The trailers looked lousy (no “We have a Hulk” moment) and word-of-mouth from critics and others confirmed it.
  3. The non-geek crowd is wearying of end-of-the-world superhero movies.

The truly important number isn't this weekend's gross but next weekend's drop. For these types of movies, a 50-60% drop is normal; anything more than 65 is problematic. Given “BVS”'s big open and general lousiness, I'm expecting 70%. I'm expecting Hulk 2003 numbers. 

Yeah, it's still going to make a mint. But I'm guessing “Batman v Superman” loses hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly as much as half a billion dollars, because it sucked. And that's on Zack Snyder. Specifically it's on the Warner Bros. people who gave him the job: who entrusted their most popular characters, their most prized intellectual property, to the man who made “300,”  “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch.” 

UPDATE: The final domestic number was $166 million, which puts it behind the last “Harry Potter” film, too. 

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Posted at 07:06 AM on Mar 28, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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